There has been lots of talk recently on Twitter about oil exploitation in Block 31 of Yasuni National Park and how this contravenes the promises made by the Yasuni ITT Initiative. Fortunately, or unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to be the case.

Fortunately, because it means that Yasuni ITT is still going ahead successfully. Unfortunately, it means that other parts of the Yasuni National Park are open to exploitation by oil companies.

The ITT in Yasuni ITT refers to a region (Ishpingo Tambococha Tiputini) of the Yasuni National Park. Therefore it is only a part of the park which is being reserved from exploitation, not all of it.

Block 31 is an area adjacent to the ITT region. It is obviously very disappointing to think that not all of Yasuni is protected and to many of us, contradictory, but in the current climate the fact that the Yasuni ITT Initiative exists at all is a huge positive. Its survival alone is not yet a given and that would still be the priority of Yasuniforever. If we could extend the protection to Block 31 and the rest of the Yasuni National Park, that would indeed be a victory for common sense.

A neat summary of Block 31 in relation to Yasuni ITT is included in a very informative article by Matt Finer and Pamela Martin called The “Dark Side” of the Yasuní-ITT Initiative. This article gives a very clear account of the initiative up to June 2010. It would be great if there was an update somewhere. The section on Block 31 reads as follows:

The oil concession immediately adjacent (to the west) of the ITT zone is known as Block 31. The extraordinary rainforest boasted by Ecuador in support of the ITT Initiative is the same extraordinary rainforest in Block 31. But Ecuador is quickly moving towards development of the oil in Block 31, even as they vigorously promote the wonders of the Yasuní-ITT Initiative.

In other words, to the disbelief of many international observers, Ecuador is treating them as two totally different beasts instead of one connected masterpiece. Note to Quito: This bizarre disconnect needs to change.

More information about Block 31 is available on the following sites:
Peru: The Exploitation Of Block 31 Threat To The Initiative Of Non-Exploitation Of Yasuni Oil

Ecuador To Begin Oil Production In Yasuni Park Region Next Year

The ITT block (block 43) project and block 31